the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, especially those that have been excavated.
Rare. ancient history; the study of antiquity.
Also, archeology.

1600–10; < Greek archaiología the discussion of antiquities. See archaeo-, -logy

archaeologist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
archaeology or archeology (ˌɑːkɪˈɒlədʒɪ)
prehistory See also protohistory the study of man's past by scientific analysis of the material remains of his cultures
[C17: from Late Latin archaeologia, from Greek arkhaiologia study of what is ancient, from arkhaios ancient (from arkhē beginning)]
archeology or archeology
[C17: from Late Latin archaeologia, from Greek arkhaiologia study of what is ancient, from arkhaios ancient (from arkhē beginning)]
archaeological or archeology
archeological or archeology
archaeo'logically or archeology
archeo'logically or archeology
archae'ologist or archeology
arche'ologist or archeology

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, "ancient history," from Fr. archéologie, from Gk. arkhaiologia "the study of ancient things," from arkhaios "ancient," from arkhe "beginning" (see archon). Meaning "scientific study of ancient peoples" first recorded 1837. Related: Archaeologist (1824).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
archaeology or archeology   (är'kē-ŏl'ə-jē)  Pronunciation Key 
The scientific study of past human life and culture by the examination of physical remains, such as graves, tools, and pottery.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
archaeology [(ahr-kee-ol-uh-jee)]

The recovery and study of material objects, such as graves, buildings, tools, artworks, and human remains, to investigate the structure and behavior of past cultures. Archaeologists rely on physical remains as clues to the emergence and development of human societies and civilizations. Anthropologists, by contrast, to interact with living people to study their cultures.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
In many ways, archaeology rests on the study of garbage, except that the
  garbage is a few hundred or a few thousand years old.
Archaeology is the study of the human past using material remains.
The explosion in commercial archaeology has brought a flood of information.
Media archaeology is an approach to media studies that has emerged over the
  last two decades.
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